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Title: An exploration of preparation for parenthood amongst first-time biological parents
Authors: Spiteri, Georgette
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Background and aim: The first-time experience of parenthood is a major life event which is associated with many stresses and rewards. Lack of preparation for parenthood has been shown to result in sub-optimal transitions for the individual parents and the dyadic relationship if present. Hence, this study aimed to explore preparation for first-time parenthood from multiple perspectives. Methods: A multi-method, multi-phased, study consisting of a concept analysis using Walker and Avant’s framework was used to explore the term ‘preparation for parenthood’ (phase one); a systematic review of measurement instruments used in the assessment of preparation for first-time parenthood (phase two) and; in-depth interviews with women, men and couples to develop an understanding of their experiences of preparation for first-time biological parenthood (phase three). Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyse the data elicited in phase three of this study. Results and discussion: Phase one resulted in a preliminary conceptual model consisting of five core domains (psychological, sociological, cultural, spiritual and physical) related to preparation for first-time parenthood. These core domains served as the foundation for the development of phases two and three respectively. The systematic review work revealed that currently there are only a few instruments which measure aspects related to these core domains. Existing tools focus on parental competence, maternal adjustment, expectations, postnatal support and paternal adaptation. The qualitative findings of this study showed how preparation for the first-time experience of parenthood launched a transformation within the women, men and couples alike and was an integral part of their journeys. What may seem like a natural transformation was, in fact, the result of a complex endeavour, with its difficulties and consequences, but also with a possibility for empowerment and growth within individual parents and within the dyadic relationship. Conclusion: There is a need to support both women and men as early as the preconception phase, creating learning opportunities and promoting engagement with educational resources all throughout the childbearing experience, with a particular focus on preparation for parenthood. Addressing the apparent contradictions that are related to the first-time experience of parenthood is paramount in achieving optimum transitions with positive outcomes for both the parents and their children. The findings of this overall study hold potential importance for future work with prospective first-time parents especially with regards to the design and implementation of interventions aimed at supporting individuals through the transition to first-time parenthood.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Institute of Health and Society

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